CRAIG LEWIS looks at some of Faf de Klerk’s important contributions last Saturday that demonstrates why he has become virtually irreplaceable for the Boks this season.
Over the course of the Rugby Championship, De Klerk has well and truly made the No 9 jersey his own. In fact, the 26-year-old has been so integral to the Bok cause that there have been very limited opportunities for the replacement scrumhalf this season.
Rassie Erasmus has emphatically insisted that in Test match rugby, you cannot afford to make changes for the sake of it. Indeed, De Klerk is one of the players that the Bok coach has been very reluctant to pull from the field of play, and here we look at just why.
In this first example below, although Aphiwe Dyantyi received plenty of deserved plaudits for his read and intercept to score a try within the opening minute against Australia, the role played by De Klerk in the lead-up went largely unnoticed.
However, when looking back at the footage, one can actually hear a Bok player shouting ‘pressure, pressure, pressure Faf’. Now keep an eye out for De Klerk. He shoots out of the defensive line with his pure pace, and pressures Kurtley Beale into making an ill-judged pass.
That poor split-second decision is pounced on by the Boks, and Dyantyi goes over to score.
In the next clip below, we look at De Klerk’s well-taken try. Although the five-pointer is set up with a beautiful break from Handré Pollard, you can see how De Klerk runs a superb support line to receive the pass and dart into space to score.
The next video shows a piece of De Klerk’s skill that we have seen several times already this season, and which has resulted in tries being scored on a couple of previous occasions.
In this example from last Saturday, you can see how De Klerk has the presence of mind to spot the numbers advantage out wide, and the ability to fire a powerful long pass from a stationary position.
It’s also worth noting how De Klerk has demonstrated an important improvement in some of his box kicking. At times, it may be a bit telegraphed, while he has occasionally battled to get the desired distance on these kicks, but there was more than one example of far greater accuracy last Saturday.
In the first video below, De Klerk clears from just within his own 22, and finds touch with pinpoint accuracy and distance.
The next clip below shows De Klerk this time finding space with a lovely, flat and deep clearing kick.
Finally, we again look at some of De Klerk’s gutsy defence. In this example, he once again shoots out to complete a highly effective spot tackle around the ankles of burly Wallabies front rower Folau Faingaa.
It’s these clips that provide just a little insight into De Klerk’s wide variety of game-influencing plays, while making it a bit easier to understand why the halfback has racked up a hefty amount of game time this season.
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images